I was an average Latter-day Saint in high school. I was involved in sports and music and Boy Scouts. And I was quite interested in music. I played the drums in band, and my favorite kind of music at the time was punk rock. I used to practice drumming to CDs until the day came when I formed my own band with three nonmember friends.
Our band started innocently enough. Soon we became quite popular around town, which led us to believe we were the best. I soon found myself skipping Church functions to practice. Then I began ditching church on Sundays to play. During this time we got a phone call from a band we idolized. Members of that band said they saw us play, thought we were good, and offered to help us record our first CD. This sounded too good to be true. We were on our way to the top, and my commitment to the Church dwindled even more. I hardly attended, and I didn’t associate with my LDS friends anymore. I was slipping away.
As the months went on, our band grew more popular, and I quit going to church all together. I started partying all the time and hanging out with a bad crowd. I got to meet every music hero I had. I traveled throughout the United States and Canada. You could walk into any music store and find our CDs on the racks. I thought it was great! If God didn’t want me to be doing this, I rationalized, He wouldn’t have allowed the band to get so big. In the band, I didn’t have to have an outside job; all I had to do was play. We made enough money from our playing to live.
During my four years of playing with the band, I became really unhappy. I didn’t have any direction in life. I was lacking something. I hadn’t stepped inside a church for four years, and I didn’t have a clue about my beliefs anymore. I was really living a life of sin. Serving a mission was the last place I thought I would end up.
The band was on tour, finishing the last couple of shows before we went home. The moment when everything changed for me came in Portland, Oregon, on our way to a show. I was sitting in the passenger seat of our tour van. I was a little homesick, and it was a gray day, raining as it often does in Oregon. We pulled up to a stoplight, and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw two figures in trench coats standing there. There were two missionaries standing on the corner waiting to cross the street. They didn’t notice me, but they must have been sharing a joke because they were smiling and laughing even though it was a miserable day. Before I knew it, I found tears streaming down my cheeks, just like the rain running down the window of our van. These two elders had something about them—a “glow” if you want to call it that. I felt they had what I was looking for.
As I was watching them and trying to conceal my tears from the other band members, I suddenly felt something familiar. I felt the Spirit of the Lord strong within me. I knew what I had been missing. I realized I hadn’t had Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ in my life for five years! This was my wake-up call.
I was very confused about what to do. So I did something I should have done sooner. I got on my knees one night in my apartment and prayed to my Heavenly Father for help. Help came in the form of great Church leaders who worked with me through my repentance.
I quit the band, came back to the Church, and served as a second counselor in the presidency of my young single adult branch. Now at the age of 23, I’m devoting the next two years of my life to serving a mission. Those two missionaries in Portland will never know that just by being there, happy to serve their missions, they helped turn around the life of a desperate person. They didn’t speak a word to me, but their example changed me forever.
God lives and He answers prayers, sometimes on a street corner in Portland in the rain.